Holocaust Memorial Day 2019
27 January 2019
Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorated annually on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, is a reminder of what extreme and unhindered racism, xenophobia and antisemitism can lead to. The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 is ‘Torn from Home.’ When we reflect on the Holocaust, as Jews, we remember the six million of our kin who were murdered by the Nazi regime in Europe, simply for being Jewish.
This year’s theme reminds us of those who survived but faced the tough consequences of leaving their home; a place of safety, comfort and security. The theme also serves as a reminder of the 340,000 Jews who were torn from home, who escaped Nazi Germany, but emigrated to countries subsequently conquered by Germany. Of those 340,000 who fled Germany to move to Austria, Holland, France, and other neighbouring European countries, 100,000 were murdered during the Holocaust.
This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day marks the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda, which began in April 1994. Approximately one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 100 days. Due to the ethnic divisions of the conflict, millions of innocent Hutus were torn from home and fled to refugee camps in neighbouring countries. After the genocide, many attempted to return to their homes, to find they were the only living member of their families left alive, often returning to communities where their attackers and murderers still lived. The safety, security and comfort of what one would call home had been erased.
As Jews we bear the responsibility, as those who survived and have descended from survivors of the Holocaust, to educate the world about what the actions of hatred can lead to: genocide. We cannot forget the six million Jews who were murdered, and we must not forget the struggles of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were torn from home. As Jews, we must remember those murdered and displaced, globally, in later genocides, including the millions killed in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, the one million murdered in Rwanda in 1994, the 8,000 killed in Srebrenica in 1995 and the ongoing death and displacement of millions in Darfur.